Bill de Blasio, New York’s newly installed mayor, said defending Israel was part of his job.
“Part of my job description is to be a defender of Israel,” de Blasio said at a private New York event of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee first reported Friday by the Capital New York news website.
“There’s no greater ally on earth, and that’s something we should say proudly,” he said at the Jan. 23 event.
De Blasio, who was inaugurated this month after being elected in November, described his visit to Israel with his family several years ago. He also said “City Hall will always be open” to AIPAC, a pro-Israel lobby.
He noted in his talk that New York has the largest Jewish population outside of Israel.
Successive New York mayors for decades have cultivated close ties with Israel.
In an interview with The Jewish Week during the Democratic primary last summer de Blasio, when asked if he felt a pro-Israel stance could hurt him in some communities, said “if anyone doesn’t like my stance in favor of Israel, they can vote for someone else.
“Our obligation as New Yorkers is to stand by the State of Israel and its security.”
Referring to his efforts as public advocate to promote a boycott of Iran until it ends its nuclear weapons program, de Blasio continued “Like so many people I hope one day to have a fair two-state solution that defends Israel’s security, but in the meantime I’m less concerned about semantics and more concerned about the fact that the State of Israel is still threatened.”
The AIPAC event was omitted from the mayor’s public schedule distributed to the press corps, Capital New York reported in a follow-up article. The mayor said it was because AIPAC wanted the dinner to be closed to the media.
In the wake of the AIPAC speech, De Blasio promised to provide a “clearer understanding” of his schedule and speeches, according to Capital New York.